Name: Emma Bitz
Age: 27 years old
Current occupation: Co-founder & partner at Female Invest
What did you dream about as a child?
When I was younger, I was probably most afraid of having a uniform everyday life. I like framework, structure, predictability, and security - but at the same time, I can get stifled by it. Because of that, since I was a kid I've been curious about different options and therefore made different choices than the ones I was surrounded by. For example, my education, where I chose business school instead of high school, and my career, where I didn’t choose to go the management consultant route like everyone else around me, but instead chose to work in a bank.
What key experience impacted you to move in the direction you are moving today?
It is difficult to say. I think it's a combination of many things. Among other things, my boyfriend helped me take the leap to become self-employed - if he can, I can too, I thought. I'm generally inspired by people who aren't afraid to jump into things, which is probably because it's a contrast to my sensible side.
Today, I couldn't imagine being in a job or role where my work wasn't seen or noticed. I couldn't imagine being a small part of a big machine, which is something I've thought about a lot during my studies - that we are a product of the same thing and the same machine. We think we have a lot of different dreams and make a lot of independent choices, but in reality, we follow a norm incredibly much and adapt without stopping to consider which direction or path is right for us exactly.
What choice you’ve made in your life are you most proud of, and why?
I'm probably most proud of what I'm doing today - that I've started two businesses and actually succeeded.
But in general, I'm proud of the fact that I say yes to most challenges and I'm not afraid to be challenged. For example, starting Female Invest was a big challenge that I accepted. We had all secured good jobs, and I had actually just got a job in New York, but chose instead to throw myself into it - starting over, so to speak, with no security and no salary.
Equally, it was a big challenge when we wrote our first book. We'd never done anything like it, but we went for it anyway and we succeeded. So I'm proud that I say yes to things even if I'm not 100% comfortable with them, where I don't know the way, and that I've learned to trust myself.
What choice has been the easiest, and why?
There have been many big and difficult choices over time, but at the same time, they have felt very natural. And in the long run, they have actually made many other choices easier for me. It was a big thing to take the leap, and it was especially hard to make the decision not to finish university. There's so much focus on what education you have, and I was going to be the first in my family with a university degree. But after making the decision to go in a different direction, everything got easier. Not exactly easy, but it became easier for me to make choices because it became easier to trust and follow the direction I had chosen.
What has been the hardest choice you’ve taken, and why?
Breaking norms and being met with what you do when you break norms - and then having to defend it. On the surface, it might seem easier not to make these big, difficult, and different choices because there is so much stress and anxiety associated with big choices, but it wouldn't have been right for me to just go with the flow.
"Often I find that the fact that others don't believe in me or what I do becomes my fuel - I get the urge to prove the opposite of what people think. "
How do you find inspiration and confidence to step out of your comfort zone?
I find great inspiration in people who don't settle or worry all the time. People who trust what feels right to them and follow that. Over time I have learned to trust myself, my professionalism, and my integrity and learned how important that is because it is so easy to get taken away from you if you don't learn to tell yourself that.
My comfort zone has always been different from others. I have always had a desire to challenge myself and move out of my comfort zone. Often I find that the fact that others don't believe in me or what I do becomes my fuel - I get the urge to prove the opposite of what people think. That sense of injustice becomes my drive, just as the biases we observe in society and try to solve at Female Invest also have the effect of giving me the motivation and energy to keep going.
What personal characteristics do people most often use to describe you?
People often describe me as stubborn and as someone with a great drive. At the same time, people also describe me as sensitive - especially when it comes to injustice.
How do you feel these unique characteristics have impacted your way in life?
They've shaped my path in the sense that I've developed a bit of an attitude that if you want to change something, you have to do it yourself. No one else is going to fix it for you, so if you want something to be different, do something about it.
”Choices always come with a portion of uncertainty, and you just have to accept that and try to find peace in it. ”
What is your best advice to others who would like to feel more comfortable about making personal choices?
We need to stress less about everything we want to achieve and just try things out - imagine if we succeed. Personally, I gave myself permission to take at least 10 years, from the time I was 20-30, to just try things out. It's a privilege you have especially when you're young, with no obligations.
In addition, we need to liberate ourselves a bit more, stop and consider what direction we are heading. Choices always come with a portion of uncertainty, and you just have to accept that and try to find peace in it. And remember why you made the choice.